Akin v. Missouri Gaming Commission

956 S.W.2d 261 (1997)

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Akin v. Missouri Gaming Commission

Missouri Supreme Court
956 S.W.2d 261 (1997)

Facts

In 1994, Missouri voters adopted a constitutional amendment authorizing games of chance “only upon the Mississippi River and the Missouri River.” Land-based casino gambling remained illegal in Missouri. In 1996, the Missouri Gaming Commission (the commission) (defendant) was considering whether to license floating gambling facilities in artificial spaces that had been filled with water from the Missouri River. The artificial spaces were not contiguous to the river itself but were located within 1,000 feet of the river’s main channel. A group of Missouri taxpayers, including W. Todd Akin (collectively, the taxpayers) (plaintiffs), brought an action against the commission to prevent the licensing of gambling facilities in the artificial spaces. The taxpayers argued that the voters had authorized gambling facilities only on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers themselves. The commission asserted that six months before the vote on the constitutional amendment, Missouri’s General Assembly had enacted a statute that defined the Mississippi River and Missouri River to include the rivers’ waters, beds, and banks and artificial spaces located within 1,000 feet of the rivers’ main channels. The commission argued that voters were aware of that statute and had adopted the statutory definition of the rivers for purposes of the amendment. The trial court upheld the statute’s validity and dismissed the taxpayers’ suit. The taxpayers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Benton, C.J.)

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